Longtime friend and student Jeff Blachly said something I’ll never forget. We were at an MMA Event in New Jersey called “CFFC”.
While waiting for someone to file paperwork or something like that Jeff and I got to talking about striking and how everyone thinks it’s all the same.
We joked about all those people we meet that think striking is striking. Folks that think the same striking that wins Muay Thai titles will also win a UFC Title Belt.
A few minutes into the conversation Jeff used this awesome gem of wording to sum up MMA striking and I’ll never forget.
“Man they might be good big glove striker but I’m a better little glove striker!”
I’ll tell you what man I almost fell out of my chair laughing when he said that, and you know what, it’s 100% true.
Boxing, Kickboxing, Thai Boxing, these are what we consider “Big Gloves” striking styles. MMA of course is “Little Gloves” striking.
So does the best Boxer or Kickboxer automatically become a good (or great) MMA fighter? More often then not, big glove fighters don’t get very far.
The Differences Between Big Glove vs. Little Glove
Ask anyone who’s fought an MMA bout, and I mean a real MMA fight, not a buddies backyard fight club.
Those who’ve got real MMA fights under their belt will tell you without hesitation, those little gloves fly fast and hit hard.
If you’re not sure let me inform you that yes there’s a big difference, wait, HUGE DIFFERENCE between striking with a boxing gloves on compared to a tiny MMA glove.
I can’t begin to tell you how many awesome Kickboxers I’ve seen get KO’ed by guys that didn’t have half their level of striking skill.
It’s because they weren’t used to fighting with small gloves on. Many of the defensive movements have to be adjusted or else those little gloves find a way through small openings and boom, KO.
The best MMA Camps in the world, places like Nova Uniao, Jackson’s and AKA all teach a style of striking that’s designed for success with UFC gloves or a bare fist.
And for high level Boxers and Kickboxers making the transition to MMA, if you pay attention to the results, you’ll find that this adjustment to fighting with the smaller gloves isn’t easy for most to make.
Oh and let’s not forget takedowns, the other surprise factor.
I didn’t want to get into the whole takedown thing, I wanted to stick just to the gloves and leave it at that.
However, I’d be cheating those who read this blog if I didn’t at least talk a little about one other area of MMA that changes the striking landscape.
That area would be the takedowns.
This is the other element that makes striking for MMA much more challenging. When you include takedowns, striking becomes night and day different.
It forces you to be more careful with your techniques. Certain techniques will get you taken down easier then others.
How hard is it to stop a good wrestling from taken you to the ground?
Unless you’ve fought a good takedown artist, a D-1 wrestler is a good example, you’ve got no idea how hard it can be to stay on your fight.
If you run into a good Wrestler, one that knows how to punch even on a low level, you’d better be prepared for a rumble, and pick your punches/kicks wisely.
Small gloves and takedowns, Got it, what else?
So you’ve got smaller gloves and takedowns to deal with, but there’s more. What makes MMA so difficult is having to deal with so many different things.
Boxers just deal with punches. Kickboxers add in kicks and if it’s Thai style then knees, elbows.
That’s a lot sure but still not nearly as much stuff as MMA have to be aware of.
Then you’ve got MMA where you’ve got to deal with all that stuff plus takedowns, ground grappling with submission holds, and on top of all that the rounds are a good two minutes longer in MMA.
To be successful in MMA you not only have to know multiple styles of fighting but also you’ve got to be able to put them all together in a fight.
It’s not just Boxing, or takedowns, or BJJ, It’s a combination of all that stuff plus other things like conditioning, cage tactics and on and on.
It’s a lot of stuff to master, no secret there. Those who understand the 3 major styles of MMA and excel with them tend to rise to the top.
Stick with your training, master the ways of MMA and sooner or later all this confusing stuff will become second nature to you. It’s all a matter of reps, reps, reps!